Substantive short articles on Marxian sociology

For the People? Right-Wing Populism and Employment Standards in Ontario, Canada

Doug Ford’s right-wing populism emerged in relation to the material conditions of precariousness that had escalated in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. It tapped into the insecurities of working-class and middle-class voters generated through years of growing inequality, stagnant wages, declining unionization, and the deterioration of public services and institutions. Invoking an old neoliberal trope, its solution to the crisis included measures that would make Ontario “open for business,” including employment standards reforms that undermined basic employment protections for workers in the province. While proclaiming intentions to protect “the people” from “the elite,” Ford’s populism served to sustain and enhance capitalist interests by legitimating legislation that undermines the security of an already precarious workforce.

By |2021-01-20T15:21:07-05:00Jan 20, 2021|

The Working-Class Fight Against Fascism: Lessons From Greece

To assume that this leads to progressive politics is wrong as much as the opposite (that working-class positions are inherently associated with far-right politics). This dichotomy ignores the constitutive split of the class: the same workers that demand recognition of their specificity as an existing ‘class’ of people (affirming their class position) may also call for the undermining of class divides through the redistribution of resources. This paradox of class identity is not to be resolved by those dedicated to class analysis as a pathway to a more equal society. But a deeper understanding of how it works, could make this way shorter.

By |2021-01-13T11:15:20-05:00Jan 13, 2021|

The Wages of Whiteness or White Fragility? W.E.B. Du Bois and the Enduring Problem of Interracial Unionism

For Du Bois, whites embrace racism not because they are imbued by a psychological predisposition nor because they’re grasping for a shred of psychological superiority. Rather, they embrace white supremacy because the threat of job displacement—and the economic hardship that implies—drives whites to pursue their economic interests in racialized terms.

By |2021-01-06T16:37:51-05:00Jan 6, 2021|

Political Education During the Pandemic

The current moment of overlapping public health, social, economic, political, and environmental crises has shaken the world system. How we understand this moment and its relationship to short, medium, and long-term goals for transformative social change is more important than ever.

By |2020-12-16T10:11:18-05:00Dec 16, 2020|

Revisiting Braverman on the Division of Labor: What About Job Turf?

Job design is indeed important for understanding worker bargaining power and workplace-level inequality.  It really matters how organizations assemble tasks into jobs.  But, it is trickier than Braverman's classic theory implies.  Less complex jobs are exposed to more competition.  But jobs that are more unique within a workplace also accumulate leverage.  The workplace division of labor affects bargaining power by reducing job complexity but increasing job turf.  These effects typically impact different jobs, which drives workplace-based inequality.

By |2020-12-09T10:11:14-05:00Dec 9, 2020|

Kanye, Record Contracts and Copyright Enclosure

On Sept 16, 2020, Kanye West opened up a conversation about the exploitive nature of record contracts. While Kanye is an imperfect messenger, he is the latest in a long line of recording artists who demonstrate the harmful effects of these contracts. My favorite example is the metaphor of recording [...]

By |2020-12-04T13:31:05-05:00Dec 4, 2020|

Intellectual Monopoly Capitalism and the University

The growing concentration of value and knowledge in a few big corporations that became intellectual monopolies induced different forms of academic capitalism. I present three types of academic capitalist university – teaching institutions, subordinate research universities, and academic intellectual monopolies – and explore the consequences for knowledge as commons and for academic workers, all of which have worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By |2020-12-02T13:58:01-05:00Dec 2, 2020|

Teaching Thrift to the Poor

Job-readiness programs have become the predominant response to the joblessness and precariousness of the poor. These programs aim to instill within clients the cherished virtue of work. But, as we show in a recent article, they also promote the hallowed virtue of thrift. We build upon Batya Weinbaum and Amy [...]

By |2020-11-25T09:41:04-05:00Nov 25, 2020|
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